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(transcribed by Anne Trick)
Left Ottawa at 2000 hours, 23 Oct '41, with the second flight of Royal Rifles of Canada. The trip across country was uneventful, spent time getting acquainted with the officers aboard the train. Arrived at Vancouver at 0900 hours on Monday, 27 Oct, and proceeded aboard the transport "Awatea". Father Madden and Father Hobson, senior chaplains with the Army and Air Force in Vancouver, visited the ship before we sailed.
The ship left Vancouver at 1900 hours on 27 Oct. I was assigned to a cabin with Lt. Dennis, Winnipeg Grenadiers, officers' accommodations aboard the ship were very good but the men were very crowded. Generally speaking the spirit of the men was very good, there were some complaints about crowded quarters but for the most part they were willing to put up with inconveniences in order to get overseas. On Tuesday morning "H.M.C.S. Prince Robert", a converted cruiser joined us and took up her escort duties.
The trip across was very calm and there was very little evidence of sea sickness. Two calls were made, on 2 Nov 41 at Honolulu and on Friday, 14 Nov 41 at Manila. No one was allowed ashore in either ports, so all we saw of these two attractive places, was the view from the deck as the ship took on fuel and water.
On the trip across I said Mass each week day at 0630 hours and held two services for the R.C.'s on Sunday 2 Nov and 9 Nov and one o 16 Nov and also on All Saints' Day, 1 Nov, and All Souls' Day, Nov 3. There was a fair attendance at Mass on the above days.
The weather all the way across the Pacific was fine but after the first few days became very hot. With the black out regulations strictly enforced this made things very disagreeable especially at night when all port holes had to be kept closed. During the days the men continued training in gas, small arms, mortars as well as the limited space on the ship would allow. I took a short course in the use of gas equipment given by Capt. Cunningham of the Dental Corps. Life boat drills were carried out frequently. Lectures were given by Brigadier Lawson, Major C. Lyndon, Major J. Crawford and Capt. E. Dennison, R.R.C., on Hong Kong, Tropical Diseases and the Japanese Army. Besides these talks there were movies and amateur shows put on each evening, for the entertainment of the troops.
During the trip out I became acquainted with many of the Officers and men as well as conducting the services mentioned above heard confessions and visited the sick in the ships' hospital.
We arrived in Hong Kong about 0800 hrs on Sunday, 16 Nov 41. A few planes of ancient vintage met us as we entered the harbour and escorted us to our berth at Holt's Wharf, Kowloon. An official welcoming party, made up of the Governor of the Colony, Sir Mark Young and the senior Army, Navy and Air Force officers of the Colony, came aboard immediately and bade us welcome.
Without any delay the troops were disembarked and marched off to their quarters in Shamshuipo Camp. As there was not sufficient quarters for all officers in Shamshuipo Camp, the officers of Force "C", H.Q. were given temporary quarters in the Peninsula Hotel, Kowloon. I remained in these quarters till the outbreak of hostilities on 8 Dec 41.
During the period 16 Nov to 8 Dec 41, the time was utilized in getting settled in new surroundings and in training the men for the job of defending the colony. Everyone had at least one visit around the defence positions on the mainland and on the Island of Hong Kong. During this period I visited our troops at Shamshuipo each day. I said two Masses in the Church Lecture Hall, Shamshuipo Camp on each of the following Sundays, 23 Nov., 30 Nov., and 7 Dec 41. One these occasions there were compulsory Church parades. Visits were also made to Bowen Road Military Hospital, Kowloon Hospital and the Detention Barracks. I visited the Y.M.C.A., St. Patrick's club and several Catholic organizations trying to help supervisor F.G. O'Neil to arrange entertainment for the troops. Plans that we were formulating never were completed because of Monday 8 Dec 41 the Japanese attack began. During this period I met Father Murphy of the Scarboro Foreign Mission Society who was studying in this area and also renewed acquaintance with Father L. Beal, another member of the same Mission group who was returning to the interior of China.
On Sunday, 23 Nov., in company with the other two Canadian Chaplains, H/Capts J. Barnett and U. Laite, I had lunch with Mr. Cox, Welfare Officer for the Hong Kong Garrison, former C.P.R. representative in Hong Kong, at his cottage in Sheung Shui on the border of the New Territories. Here we could look out over the Japanese Camps in the occupied area of Kwangtung Province of China. This same afternoon we visited other points along the border and several Chinese villages as well as the Airport in the New Territories.
On Thursday evening, 27 Nov 41, I accompanied Brig. Lawson and Col. Hennessey as the Canadian representatives at a dinner in Government House, given to heads of the various armed services by the Governor of Hong Kong.
On the morning of 8 Dec 41, I said Mass at Shamshuipo Camp. The attendance at Mass was very small as the greater part of the troops had left the evening before the man their defence positions on Hong Kong Island. Shortly after Mass was over, without any warning the first air raid took place. Japanese planes dropped bombs on the Airport at Kai Tak and on Shamshuipo Camp simultaneously. Two Canadians, Sgt. Routledge and Sgmn Fairley of R.C.C.S. were the first Canadians wounded, there were several British wounded and a number of Chinese Servants were killed by the first bombs dropped. After visiting these wounded reported to H.Q. China Command the was assigned to Bowen Road Military Hospital by Col. Hennessey, 2 I/C of Force "C". On reporting to the hospital I was billeted at 82 McDonnell Road in a house owned by a Japanese resident who had been interned.
On 10 Dec 41, I procured a light automobile and the services of a Chinese driver and from that day until 18 Dec spent most of the daylight hours visiting the men in their various defense positions. I visited the troops in Lymun, Tai Tam, Windy Gap, Shekko, Wanchai Gap, Pokfulam, Wong nai chong and other places, hearing confessions of the R.C. soldiers and administering Holy Communion. Each evening I visited the wounded in the hospital. During this week of 11 Dec to 18 Dec 41 I said Mass each morning, brought Holy Communion to the sick and wounded in the hospital and assisted at the burial of some 15 or 16 men. These burials took place in the cemetery at Happy Valley. On the evening of 18 Dec., I visited for the last time Brigade H.Q. at Wong nai chong and had a long chat with Brigadier Lawson and Major Lyndon, who were enquiring about the welfare of the various companies of the Royal Rifles that I had visited on that day.
On the night of 18 Dec 41, the Japanese made their landing on Hong Kong Island and from that time on was unable to contact the Royal Rifles and other troops in the Eastern portion of the Island as the enemy were between me and them. On the morning of 19 Dec a bomb dropped on my quarters at 82 McDonnell Road, and I took up residence in Bowen Road Military Hospital. I visited several positions held by the Winnipeg Grenadiers during the next few days as well as posts held by the British Troops and H.K.V.D.C.
The number of wounded coming into the hospital increased greatly and I was obliged to stay around the hospital more. As certain wounded were taken to the Hong Kong Hotel, the Memorial and Queen Mary Hospitals, I made several visits to these places as well. On two occasions helped to carry in wounded from the hills to the hospital. My movements were greatly curtailed during the last three days preceding 25 Dec. because my car was destroyed by a bomb and I was unable to procure another.
During the period 18 Dec to 25 Dec, I officiated at some twenty funerals. The records containing the names of these men have been lost and I can recall the names of only two Canadian soldiers, Pte. L. Kelly W.G. and Signalman Fairley, R.C.C.S. Both of these are interred in a shell crater, just below Bowen Road Hospital.
On Christmas Day, 1941, we had to omit the usual Christmas festivities. I said one Mass at the hospital and brought Holy Communion to many wounded on that morning and then went over and held a second Mass for members of the H.K.V.D.C. About 1500 hours on Christmas Day, the O.C. Hospital informed me that the colony had surrendered, and asked me to inform the wounded in two of the war4ds that that had taken place. It was with mingled feelings that most of us heard this news, a feeling of gladness that hostilities were over for the time being and one of anxiety and dread as to what the future held for us.
The Japanese did not come near our hospital until 27 Dec 41, but would not allow any of us to leave the hospital area. There were no atrocities or maltreatment by enemy soldiers around the Bowen Road Hospital area during the first few days of our captivity that I have any knowledge of. I was able to say Mass each day and bring Holy Communion to the wounded and on 28 Dec they allowed me to accompany a ration truck going to St. Alberts Convent, Rosary Hill to visit some wounded in that place. I took my trunk on the truck on this occasion and was able to leave it in charge of some Spanish Dominican priests in residence at Rosary Hill. They put the trunk away and in August of this present year, 1945, I was able to obtain the trunk back from them intact.
On 30 Dec, all extra troops in the hospital area were marched away, leaving only the regular hospital staff. In these few days after the surrender we were able to clear up the debris on the top floors of the hospital, which had been struck by shells during the fight. This gave us room for many more patients who were moved in from other hospitals. A shell destroyed the hospital kitchen in the first week of the fighting and this made the feeding of the staff and patients very difficult. The small kitchen at the Sgts. mess was pressed into service but at the best could provide only a limited service and it took all this week to build up a new kitchen and establish normal meal service.
Summary of Services - 23 Oct 41 - 21 Dec 41
|Number present||2600 Approx.|
|Visits to one hospital||65|
|Patients Visited||1200 Approx.|
|Prepared for Death||100 Approx.|
|No. of Funerals(Records with names of persons buried this year have been lost)||60|
Remained at Bowen Road Military Hospital until 6 Jan 42. Provided religious services for the staff and patients and helped about the hospital. The officer commanding the hospital, Col. Shackleton, R.A.M.C. informed me that my services were no longer required in the hospital, and as it looked as though Father E.J. Green, Catholic Chaplain with the British Forces would be able to visit the hospital from time to time. I moved down to North Point internment Camp on 6 Jan 42. The Royal Rifles of Canada as well as a large number of British Army, Navy and Air Force were interned here. The total umber in the camp was about 2,500 of whom nearly 500 were R.C.s.
North Point Camp is a collection of filthy wooden shacks. It was originally meant to house 1,000 Chinese refugees. The fighting in that area had demolished several of the huts and damaged several more. We had 150 to 175 men crowded into huts that should provide quarters for 50. For the first few weeks we had no running water in the camp and the sanitary conveniences were of the crudest type. Millions of flies clung to everything and every one had to turn in to slaughter them everyday. During the first few weeks in North we had a supply of British rations procured from our own food stores and although cooking arrangements were of the crudest type we fared quite well. About 1 Feb 42 the Japanese took away all surplus British rations in the camp and we were put on Japanese rations. Rice was our principal food from then on. The provided our main fare for the next few months.
A supply of flour was brought into the camp and then the men soon constructed ovens and a small ration of bread was available every day. About the middle of July this year, the meat supply became exhausted and we were not issued with any more until June of the year 1945. Tea was provided as a beverage quite regularly. No milk and practically no sugar were received.
On 22 Jan, the Japanese began regrouping the prisoners and the following movement took place:
Jan 22 - the H.K.V.D.C. and Br Army left Camp.
Jan 23 - Winnipeg Grenadiers arrived from Shamshuipo.
Jan 24 - British Naval personnel and a few Canadians moved in from Argyle St. Camp. We were very pleased to see this group as many of them including Major C. Young and Capt. M. Bonfill of R.R.C. were reported as dead up until this time.
Jan. 25 - Submarine crew of Royal Netherlands Navy arrived in camp.
All these men remained in North Point Camp until 18 Apr 42. On that date the British Navy left the Camp, this eased crowding slightly.
During the month of February when the weather became very cold, damp and windy we all suffered a great deal. Many were poorly clad. Blankets were scarce and there was no means of heating any of the buildings and it was impossible to plug up all the holes in the leaky roofs.
The camp was so crowded that it was impossible to procure accommodations for religious services. We carried out our services outside when the weather permitted and used the small ordnance workshop or a tent when wind and rain prevented holding of services outdoors. We had at least one Mass and generally two each Sunday and on Sunday evenings an evening service was also held. The attendance at these services was generally very good and a large number came to Communion. On weekdays Mass was said generally in the ordnance workshop.
During the first few months in North Point I received a supply of altar breads and sacramental wine from Father O'Brien S.J. Chaplain of the French Hospital, Causeway Bay. In April of this year he was not allowed to bring me any more of these supplies and we had to make our own. The cook of the officers' mess devised a means of making altar breads, using a flat iron as a press. He kept me supplied for the remainder of the year.
While living in North Point Camp, I was brought to Bowen Road Military Hospital on the following occasions:
7 Apr - Attend funeral of Lt. Col. Sutcliffe, W.G.
17 May - To minister last sacraments to Spr. Stephens, R. E.
18 May - Officiated at burial of Spr. Stephens, R.E.
11 Aug - Officiated at burial of Rfm Bacon, R.R.C.
13 Aug - Officiated at burial of Pte. Rapp, H.K.V.D.C.
31 Aug - Officiated at burial of Rfm. Antila, R.R.C.
21 Sep - Officiated at burial of Pte. Harknes, W.G.
During each visit to Bowen Road Hospital, I was able to see some of the R.C.'s who were most seriously ill and administer to them the Sacraments of the Church. During this period I learned that no Catholic Services were held in the hospital and my repeated requests to go there to provide these services were absolutely ignored. After 21 Sept 42, I was taken to Bowen Road Hospital again. Catholic patients and staff had not the services of a priest after that date, nor was a Catholic priest procured to conduct funerals.
On 26 Sept 42, all Canadians in North Point Camp were moved to Shamshuipo Cap to join the British Prisoners there. Living conditions, except for the fact that the roofs of the huts were in better condition, were no better than in North Point. The same crowded conditions prevailed. There was no flush toilet system in camp and the meals were just the same - rice, vegetables and a small quantity of fish from time to time.
Here facilities for religious services were a little better, because we had an empty hut assigned to us for use as a Chapel. Here too, I had the assistance and companionship of Rev. E.J. Green, British Army Chaplain. Besides providing us with a place to hold regular Sunday services and daily Mass and evening prayers, this hut gave us someplace where we could meet men privately, and discuss their private problems.
At the beginning of October an epidemic of Diphtheria broke out among the prisoners. Hundreds became infected and as the Doctors had not proper remedies very little could be done the check the ravages of this disease. It was only when the disease began to affect some of their own guards that the Japanese began to bring in a supply of serum. Before the disease was checked it had claimed the lives of more than 100 Canadians and several hundred British lives as well.
Early in the epidemic the Japanese swabbed our throats and I was declared a Diphtheria carrier and was moved into Isolation Area and remained in isolation until 5 Dec 42. During this period I took charge of R.C. religious services for those isolated. I was able to provide them with daily Mass and visited the sick several times a day, and administered the last Sacraments of the Church to any in danger of death.
One incident of this period always will remain in mind as an example of Japanese inhumanity. When the epidemic was at its worst and four and five men were dying every day, Doctor Saito, the Japanese Medical Officer, stormed into the hospital , called out Major Crawford and those who were helping as Medical Orderlies. He lined them up and berated and slapped them, claiming that the numerous deaths were due to the fact that they were neglecting their duty. He would not consider the fact that he was not providing the necessary medicines to allow our Medical Officers and the orderlies assisting them, to perform their duties efficiently. The sacrifice of time and effort, and the fact that these individuals were risking their own health to help those stricken was entirely overlooked. The fact that these same men were able to check this disease quickly as soon as they procured the proper medicine from the Japanese or by black market purchases, shows very clearly that these men were not neglecting duty but performing a most difficult, distasteful job in a highly efficient manner.
In November of this year Father E.J. Green, wrote to the Japanese and suggested that a portion of a sum of money donated by Pope Pius XII for the relief of allied prisoners in the Hong Kong Area, be allocated to the Shamshuipo Camp for the alleviation of suffering and sickness in that camp. The Japanese contended that his letter insinuated that they were making improper use of this fund and Fr. Green received a very severe beating at their hands. They clubbed him with sheathed swords till he was knocked out. As a result of this beating Father Green was confined to hospital for many weeks. It is of interest to note that the money donated by the Pope was subsequently used to purchase musical instruments and sports equipment for the various camps in Hong Kong Area.
Another case of a severe beating occurred this autumn when three N.C.O.'s of the Middlesex Regiment were late for an Evening Roll Call. The Camp Commandant, an interpreter know to the prisoners as "The Kamloops Kid", and several guards had a hand in the beating on this occasion and were very brutal in the punishment they administered to these men.
The names of these culprits and sworn statements of their crimes have been handed in to the officers in charge o the relieving force that came to Hong Kong in August 1945. All those involved were arrested and taken into custody to answer charges as war criminals.
The month of December was a very busy one for me. Father Green was confined to the hospital on account of the maltreatment he received and all the R.C. services for British as well as Canadians were my responsibility. Daily visits to those who were sick were made. During Christmas week I brought Holy Communion to more than 150 R.C.'s in the hospital. This with preparation for Christmas festivities and hearing of many confessions meant a very busy session.
The Christmas Services were very fine this year. We obtained permission to keep the lights on till 1:30 A.M. Christmas morning and had a very fine turnout for midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The troops went to great pains in preparing a Christmas Crib and decorating the chapel for the occasion. The choir had practiced the Christmas carols and prepared to sing a High Mass. The crowd that turned out was very large and could not all be contained in the chapel so they stood outside the open windows looking in. The choir sang beautifully and I had more than 400 for Holy Communion. The minds of most of us were back with our dear ones at home and there were tears in many eyes. This is one Christmas service that many of us will never forget.
The attendance at religious services during the entire year was very good, but showed a tendency to decrease during the last three months of the year. This decrease was due to the large amount of sickness in the camp and also to the fact that many men were obliged to go out of the camp every day, Sundays included, on work parties. Throughout the entire year in spite of amount of sickness present, in spite of scarcity and the quality of the food received and the deplorable living conditions the morale of the officers and men remained surprisingly high.
One event which was a great booster of morals and of great benefit to us all physically as well, was the arrival of a shipment of Red Cross supplies in the latter part of November 1942. Each man received his first Red Cross food parcel on this occasion. Bulk supplies of corned beef, M and V and dried fruit were issued regularly to the various kitchens and while these supplies lasted they did much to improve the health of the camp as a whole.
On 3 Apr 42, the Japanese began paying the officers of the Camp. They received pay graded according to rank as from 1 Jan 42. Chaplains of the Canadian Army and Auxiliary Service Officers did not receive any pay. The Japanese said that as we were of Honorary Rank only, this did not entitle us to pay. Thus the designation of Honorary Capt. caused us a considerable amount of inconvenience. It is true that the other Canadian Officers shared their pay with us but the fact that we received none ourselves meant that we were a financial burden to our fellow officers, and prevented them and us from providing help to the other Ranks. We petitioned the Japanese to rectify this situation many times but our position as officers was not established and we received no pay regularly and without question.
As well as the funerals of those mentioned above as having taken place at Bowen Road Military Hospital, I also officiated at the following burials all of which took place in the Argyle St. Cemetery, Kowloon.
29 Sep - Rfm Coughlin, P. R.R.C.
4 Oct - Rfm Kendall, D.R. R.R.C.
7 Oct - Pte Robideau, M. R.R.C.
10 Oct - Rfm Dulevis, L.P. R.R.C.
12 Oct - Rfm Danyluk, M. R.R.C.
16 Oct - Rfm Cormier, L.R. R.R.C.
16 Oct - Cpl Vermette, P. R.R.C.
23 Oct - Rfm Pelletier, G.J. R.R.C.
27 Nov - Gnr Gallagher, W.G.
7 Dec - Pte Thomas, C. W.G.
14 Dec - Rfm Splude, G.R. R.R.C.
17 Dec - Sgt Kevan, T.M. R.R.C.
Summary of all Religious Services 1942
|Number Present||35000 Approx.|
|Visits to Hospitals||250|
|Patients Visited||3000 Approx.|
|Prepared for Deaths||125 Approx.|
After a year of interment everyone seemed to be becoming more accustomed to the difficulties of this type of existence. The men have become expert at manufacturing dishes and eating utensils from automobile hub caps, lamp shades and empty tin cans. Many have made small cupboards, stools, tables and chairs and a great variety of sandals and wooden clogs are worn. With the increase of the amount and quality of food due to Red Cross Supplies, the general health of the camp improved and there was a more cheerful aspect about the camp.
I carried on my usual duties, saying mass, visiting the sick and giving instructions to the men all the first month of this year. About the ;middle of January, the Japanese chose a draft of 1200 men, 600 Canadians and 600 British, to be sent to Japan. These were the first Canadians to leave Hong Kong Area. The thought of moving to Japan was not a pleasant one for those chosen, in view of the fact that about half of a draft of 1800 British P.O.W.'s enroute to Japan lost their lives when the transport bearing them was torpedoed by American submarines in October 1942. Three Medical Officers were the only commissioned ranks allowed on this draft. I, along, with other Chaplains, volunteered to go but our request was refused. On Sunday, 17 Jan I said Mass for those leaving and administered 152 Communions at this mass.
After the departure of these 1200 men there was a general rearrangement of accommodations. I was assigned accommodations with the other two Canadian Chaplains in two rooms in the Hospital Area. These rooms were considerable improvement on what we had until that time. However, I was only in this new space about a week when I became sick and was moved into the dysentery hospital. On 10 Feb 43, I was taken along with a number of other sick to Bowen Road Military Hospital and was confined to bed until the first week of March. From that time until I was sent back to Shamshuipo Camp on April 13, 1943. I was able to say daily Mass and provide services on Sundays for the R.C.'s of the staff and patients of that institution. This was the only time that they had R.C. services in the hospital for over a year.
Returned to Camp on 13 Apr., and helped Father Green with the regular Sundays and week days. We carried out in full detail all the services of Holy Week and Easter and had a very large number of Holy Communions during Easter Season.
On 18 May 43, one of the Japanese interpreters ordered me to pack my kit. He would not tell me where I was going and did not permit me to contact anyone before leaving camp. After this mysterious performance I was conducted to the camp gate, my kit was thrown into a lorry, I got aboard with it and in a few minutes was delivered to the British Officers' Camp on Argyle St. Here I found some forty R.C.'s who had been without the services of a Catholic Chaplain for over a year. It was in response to their repeated appeals for Chaplain service that I was transferred to this camp. They had been told that Father Green was coming out but the Japanese with their usual suspicious nature, thought they would cross them up, in case that Father Green might be carrying messages or bringing information to the Senior Officers of this camp, and so I was deposited in Argyle St. Camp, the only Canadian among some 500 British Officers.
In this camp the usual crowded conditions prevailed. There was no space set aside for religious services, so we began once more to say Mass outdoors in the canteen enclosure. The congregation here although small in numbers was very faithful and turned out well for Daily Mass and Sunday services. The senior officers of the camp particularly General Maltby, G.O.C. Hong Kong, and Col. J.P. Kilpatrick of the Financial Advisers' Staff were very kind to me.
This Officers camp was better organized than the men's camp in many ways. They had regular classes in operation in languages, mathematics, history and other subjects. A public lecture on some interesting subjects was held five days per week. There was a fair library and a considerable amount of musical and other entertainment provided. Also some attempt was made to organize sports such as softball, volleyball and hockey. These things were possible to a greater extent in the officers' camp than in the men's camp because the officers were not obliged to go out on work parties and consequently had more free time. The officers did, however, do ordinary camp fatigues and had a large garden and a small poultry farm in operation near the camp. The produce from these enterprises helped to augment the skimpy rations. The kitchen at Argyle Camp was very poor and the rations here were poorer than at the men's camp. They did not receive such a large portion of Red Cross supplies as the men, but as they were all receiving Japanese pay, they could purchase some extra food from the canteen which brought in small quantities of supplies each week.
In this camp the guards seemed to take particular delight in bothering the officers and the slapping of an officer by a Japanese private was a frequent occurrence. Although complaints were frequently made to the authorities no action was ever taken to effectively stop this practice.
On 1 Jul 42 the Japanese took away from the camp Col. Newnham, Lt. Haddock, H.K.R.N.V.R., and Pte Prata, whom they suspected of espionage activity, and with having contact with agents in the city. Lt. Haddock was the only one of the above that we saw again after our release in August 1945. The others were executed.
About the middle of August this year, General Maltby 15 senior officers were removed from the camp and sent to Formosa. We had no further news from them. Following their departure Lt. Col. W.J. Home and 18 senior Canadian Officers were transferred from Shamshuipo to the Officers' Camp at Argyle St.
Another incident that disturbed the whole camp and caused several officers to be taken out for questioning and punishment by the Gendarmerie, was the finding of a radio receiving set by a search party on 21 Sep. All the camp was punished by having our newspapers cut off and stopping the canteen for some weeks. There was also a general tightening up of discipline and a more rigid enforcement of regulation on the part of the guards for some weeks following this incident.
Throughout all this summer and autumn I carried out my usual duties - daily Mass, Sunday services and visits to the sick in the hospital. Although there was not as much serious sickness in this camp as there was at Shamshuipo, still there were usually 15 to 25 men in hospital and many confined to quarters with minor complaints.
Through the co-operation of Mr. Matsutu, the Japanese interpreter stationed in this camp at this time I was able to receive a regular supply of Sacramental wine, altar breads and candles from Father Orlando, pastor of St. Teresa's Church, Kowloon. Mr. Matsutu arranged that I could send out a sum of money, contributed by the members of my congregation each month and thus ensured a regular supply of things necessary to carry out my duties.
The remainder of this year passed without further incidents. At Christmas time we had our usual services but could not have midnight Mass due to blackout regulations. However, we had Mass early in the evening of 24 Dec.
During this year a few letters began filtering through to us from Canada. Most of these were over a year old when we received them, but as they were the first letters from home since Oct 41, they were very welcome. All of us wrote one letter per month but we were not by any means certain that these were being sent out.
Summary of Religious Services for the Year 1943
|Number Present||12000 Approx.|
|Visits to Hospitals||250|
|Patients Visited||2000 Approx.|
|Prepared for Death||10|
This year's report is very much a repetition of the previous years. Carried on the usual daily Mass and Communion and held evening devotions on Sundays, Holy Days, Wednesday and Friday evenings during Lent and Rosary devotions during May and October.
During the first three months I conducted classes in Latin and French for a few officers, but these soon petered out through sickness and waning of interest.
In May of this year all the officers were transferred from Argyle St. Camp to Shamshuipo Camp. This latter camp was divided into two distinct sections. One section to be occupied by Officers and the other by other ranks. A row of empty huts and several barb wire barriers were constructed between the two camps and no contact or communication was allowed between officers and the Men's Camp. Once again we were crowded into a small area, there was little room for recreation and no attempt was made to provide space or facilities for religious services. In June, however, a large parade ground was turned over to us for the purpose of making a garden, and after much hard work we managed to obtain a small amount of product from this area.
During our stay in this area I used the room set aside for a library for my chapel and it provided us with at least a sheltered place to say Mass and conduct evening services. About the middle of this year the electric supply for the colony ceased to function due to the lack of fuel and for the remainder of our stay on Hong Kong, we were without lights. To pass the time during the long, dark times we instituted a series of hut lectures. I spoke several times in various huts on Italy, Rome and the Vatican City. As the Italian Campaign was on at the time a considerable interest was shown in these talks.
During August the general health of the camp deteriorated alarmingly. This deterioration was due to the scarcity of vegetables and the almost total absence of protein in the diet. The lessening of the rations on this occasion was due at least in part to the punishment imposed upon the camp by the escape of Lt. R. Goodwin, H.K.N.R.V., as well as to scarcity of supplies in the colony.
The arrival of Canadian Red Cross supplies and medicines at the end of August brought relief to us and there was a general improvement in health and morale after these supplies arrived. Each officer in the camp received four food parcels on the occasion and by carefully rationing out this food we were able to augment our diet for several months.
During this summer American air raids were frequent and at times planes came over everyday on routine observation flights. We felt all the time that the fliers knew the location of our camps and that we were in no danger from our own bombs. There was a danger, however, from Japanese anti-aircraft shells. These frequently did not explode in the air and were a menace when they dropped into the Camp Area. On 16 Oct. 44, we had several wounded, not seriously, however, from the explosion of these shells. The increased tempo of the air raids was a matter of great encouragement for all of us. We realized that things must be going well on the European fronts when so many planes could be spared for the Far East.
One striking incident of Japanese brutality that I witnessed this year was the beating given to Captain Barnett, H.K.V.D.C. The crime he was guilty of was to dare to speak to the Red Cross Representative when he made his routine visit to the Camp in July. Sgt. Harada, Japanese Guard Commander, beat him till he was unconscious with a heavy bamboo pole. Capt. Barnett was taken out of the Camp for about a week and returned in such condition that he required hospital treatment.
Several other officers - Colonel Field, R.R., Capt. Bird, H.K.V.D.C., Capt. Botelho, H.K.V.D.C. and Lt. Simpson, R.E. were taken out of camp for questioning by the Gendarmerie. These men returned after a short period in such poor physical condition that it was very evident that they had recieved very brutal treatment.
During this year I continued to receive a regular supply of wine, candles and altar breads due to the co-operation of Father Orlando and his successor as pastor of St. Teresa's Church, Kowloon, Father Poletti. Our Christmas Service consisted of Mass at 1800 hours Christmas Eve, and two Masses on Christmas morning. We also had an evening service and sang many Christmas carols.
During this year I made frequent visits to those in hospital and brought Holy Communion to the sick on several occasions. This year I was not called upon to officiate at any burials.
Summary of Religious Services for Year 1944
|Visits to Hospital||300|
|Patients Visited||2500 Approx.|
|Prepared for Death||2|
Life in Shamshuipo camp continued much as usual. Our schedule which has been in force for all the time of internment was as follows:
0630 hrs - Reveille
0800 hrs - Morning Roll Call
0830 hrs - Breakfast
1230 hrs - Lunch
1700 hrs - Supper
1800 hrs - Evening Roll Call
2130 hrs - Retire to huts
2200 hrs - Lights Out
I said Mass each morning at 0700 hrs and when we had evening devotions these usually followed the evening roll call.
The weather during January and February was extremely cold and wet. Our bedding and clothing had become very worn and threadbare and as a consequence everyone felt the cold keenly. Chillblains and colds were very prevalent and there wasn't much we could do to relieve the situation.
On Friday, 9 Feb 45, Rt. Rev. H. Valtorta, Bishop of Hong Kong, was permitted to visit the camp. He was the first and only outsider, other than the Red Cross Representative that has been permitted to enter the prison camp in over three years. I was taken out to the Japanese office and was allowed to speak to him in the presence of Col. Tokanaga, Mr. Nomura, and another interpreter and several Japanese officers. During our brief conversation I was warned several times not to say too much. After my visit the Bishop was conducted into Camp "S" and made a visit to the R.C. Chapel in that camp and was permitted as well, to speak to Father Green, E.J., C.F., who was ill at the time. I learned later that the Japanese told Bishop Valtorta many lies about the facilities we had for religious ceremonies and about how Father Green and I were permitted to go out to the civilian internment camps, hospitals and prisons to bring the comforts of religion to the inmates of these places.
On 27 Feb 45, received the one and only parcel of clothing and toilet articles, sent from home in 1942, through the Red Cross Society. On this same day many other Canadian officers and men received personal parcels and many smokes. The arrival of Canadian cigarettes was of great benefit to us. Not only did they provide a good smoke for many, but we were able to use them as money in black market trading with the guards and thus were able to procure extra, much needed food. On Saturday, 3 Mar 45, everyone received two British Red Cross food parcels and a few American cigarettes. We were very thankful to receive these parcels but we know that we did not receive all that arrived. The Japanese retained many parcels and especially many cigarettes for their own use.
On 14 Apr 45 moved to new quarters in the Hankow area of the camp. This new assignment of huts brought us very close to the hospital area of the men's camp, "S", and we were able to speak to them frequently. Some of the guards were very lenient about permitting conversations with the men across the wire, other used to sneak around trying to catch officers breaking the rules and incidents of the beating of the officers caught, took place frequently.
Towards the end of April, about 50 officers including some 40 Canadian officers, who had been in the Men's Camp throughout were transferred to the Officers' Camp and again we had to pack in a little tighter as no extra huts were provided.
Early in May we heard that Germany had surrendered and that both Mussolini and Hitler were dead. Shortly after hearing this news our newspapers were discontinued and our only source of news were newspapers brought in contrary to rules by certain friendly sentries. From this latter source we did manage to keep up with the principal events of war until Japan capitulated.
During the month of May we had Rosary devotions each evening as well as our morning Mass. During June and July everything was as usual in the camp. However beginning the last week in June the Japanese brought in a quantity of fresh meat, about 150 lbs for 500 men. This ration continued each week for the next two months. I carried on with my usual duties, morning Mass, evening services and visits to the hospital.
On Saturday, 11 Aug 45, the first rumors of peace reached us. These rumors were brought in by work parties returning to camp through the city. They reported that the Chinese were very excited and shouted this news to them frequently. These rumors persisted during the next few days and were finally admitted as true by the Japanese who withdrew their guards from the camp on 17 Aug. There was great jubilation in the camp these days and everyone began wondering when relief would arrive.
On 18 Aug, all the barriers between the two camps came down and officers and men could mingle freely. On this morning all assembled to take part in a soul-stirring ceremony when the Union Jack was raised to the top of our Camp flagpole. In an hour the flags of U.S., Russia, Free France, Canada, and Portugal were to be seen on various huts.
Leaflets were dropped from the air by American fliers. They contained instructions from General Wedeneyer, American Commander in South China. We were ordered to remain in our present camp until relief arrived. American Planes also dropped supplies of food and medicine by parachute. The days of waiting seemed long although we had many visitors at the camp. These visitors told us of their difficulties during the period of occupation. Europeans who were not interned had very difficult time procuring food, their every move was watched and many had been arrested and suffered very severely at the hands of the Gendarmerie. I had visits from Bishop Voltorta, Father Poletti and the Superior of the Jesuits, Father Joy. During this period I visited the sick and said Mass twice at C.B.S., (Combined British Schools), Kowloon, to which the Bowen Road Hospital, Staff and patients, had been moved in April of this year.
On 18 Aug 45, the Catholics of both camps, officers and men, assembled for a High Mass of Thanksgiving. I sand the Mass and Father Green spoke briefly on this occasion. On the next morning we had a High Mass of Requiem for the repose of the souls of all who died during the war. On 21 Aug 45, 14 officers and men who were undergoing prison sentences imposed by the Japanese were released and returned to camp. The condition of these men was such that all were placed in the hospital for medical care.
At long last on 30 Aug 45, the British Fleet under the command of Admiral Harcourt entered Hong Kong Harbour, The British Marines and British and Canadian sailors began to occupy the waterfront area and to disarm the Japanese. We heard that "H.M.C.S. Prince Robert" was berthed at Kowloon Wharf. A number of Canadian officers secured a truck and we went down to visit the ship. We received a very hearty welcome aboard the Canadian ship, officers and men vied with each other to make us welcome and provide comforts for us. I had the pleasure of meeting two Pembroke friends aboard the Prince Robert, Myles Howe and Thomas Shea, both members of the crew.
While the work of disarming the Japanese and taking over control of the colony was taking place we remained in our prison camp at Shamshuipo. Finally after nine days of waiting we were informed that all liberated P.O.W.'s were to depart aboard the "Empress of Australia". We boarded the Empress of Australia on Sunday, 9 Sep but did not leave Hong Kong until the eleventh. The delay was due to the fact that there was some difficulty in moving the civilian internees from Stanley Camp. At last on 11 Sep we were under way. We arrived in Manila on 13 Sep, but again there were several hours delay before we began to disembark. That evening we were moved by army truck to a replacement depot some miles from the city and soon were assigned tents.
Our treatment by the American Army, the Canadian Officers who had come out from Canada to supervise our repatriation, and the Red Cross out from Canada left nothing to be desired. They did everything in their power to make us comfortable and to expedite our departure. Everyone was given a medical examination and those needing immediate treatment were sent to hospital. Clothing and money were also provided. I was named, among others to go home by air, but due to bad weather and scarcity of air transport, this was finally changed and on 24 Sep 45 went aboard the U.S.S. Joseph T. Dickman for transport to San Francisco. There were only 40 Canadians among the 1500 repats aboard the Dickman. The voyage home was delightful. A stop was made in Pearl Harbour and I was allowed ashore for a visit to Honolulu. We arrived in San Francisco on 16 Oct and received a real noisy American welcome.
From San Francisco we traveled north by train to Seattle, Wash., and after a layover of a day proceeded to Victoria by boat. We arrived in Victoria on 19 Oct, at 1300 hours., and were cordially received by our Canadian friends. After five days delay, during which we rested at Gordon Head Camp, we received a medical examination, filled in certain documents, received a complete issue of new clothes and some pay, and then left for our respective homes on 24 Oct.
At Manila I said Mass each morning in the Camp Chapel and helped the American Chaplains with services for the men. I renewed acquaintances with Canadian soldiers, who had been taken to Japan and whom I had not seen for more than two years. These men all reported that they had had a very severe time, they were worked hard and had very poor rations. Many of them were in poor health but all were cheerful and very pleased to be on their way home.
On board ship I had the company of Lt. Col. S. Rielly, an American Chaplain who had been a Japanese prisoner for three years. We said Mass for the R.C. members of the crew and the passengers each day and conducted Sunday services. There was a large turnout at these services aboard ship.
Summary of Religious Services for Year 1945
|Number Present||12000 Approx.|
|Visits to Hospital||150 Approx|
|Patients Visited||1500 Approx.|
|Prepared for Death||2|